For many people, the holidays are full of wonderful traditions and precious memories together with family and friends. For others, it’s a time of deep pain and loneliness as they are reminded of strained or non-existent relationships or the loss of loved ones and their absence from the holiday gatherings.
For many years, the latter was my experience, especially when I became a believer in my early 20s. I lost my dad around Thanksgiving when I was 22, and a few years later, my mom and stepdad went through a very painful divorce, which strained my relationship with my mother based on her life choices shortly following the separation from my stepdad. In the early years of my own marriage, there was so much tension and passive aggressive exchanges during the holidays as it was expected that I must make it top priority to spend time with my side of the family instead of my now husband’s family.
When I had my first child, I wanted to create our own family traditions and try to include my own family as much as I could, but there was still so much tension regarding my strained family relationships. I found myself trying to be a peace maker, but it was never enough. I was crushed under the weight of trying to please everyone all while trying not to create a wedge in my marriage as well. To be quite honest, I was crushed and wounded regarding my relationships with my family in general because of my strong convictions as a believer in Christ in the midst of an unbelieving (and often hostile) family. The holidays seemed to just intensify those wounds when I would be left extremely disappointed and discouraged.
When we need God’s peace and comfort, we can always run to the Word. Scripture often brings clarity and perspective when our emotions are overwhelming. The psalmist reveals a beautiful truth about God’s love and care for the broken and wounded:
“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18, ESV).
Instead of allowing our pain and emotions to toss us to and fro, we can find our security and assurance in who God is and how much He loves by finding our foundation in His Word. The wounds of distant, strained, or lost relationships can often run deep, but there is healing found in Christ, who never leaves us nor forsake us. When we are crushed under the weight of our circumstances, we can trust that when we draw near to God, He draws near to us (James 4:8), and His ever-present help will come to our aid to walk us through the pain. You may have been disappointed, grieving, and hurt yet again this holiday season, but don’t find your home in the pain and discouragement. Let us run into His safety and find great comfort in Him!
You know my heart and see my pain before I ever speak a word, but You long for me to make my requests known to You by being honest and intentional in seeking You first no matter what. Help me to remember that You are near to the brokenhearted and that I can run into your safety when I feel crushed by my circumstances and difficult relationships. I know You alone can satisfy my soul more than any other relationship in life. Thank You for setting the lonely in families and for calling me Your child. Surround me with Your grace and help me see Your loving hand working in my life. In Jesus’ name, amen.
My husband Paul and I have been married for almost thirteen years; From day one, we have viewed our roles in the home as 51/49, meaning we realize that God created men to lead the family, so he has an extra measure of responsibility to protect, provide, and guide the family. And hear me clearly, we are equal in value as people, but never equal in role. The husband being the head of the home doesn’t mean the wife doesn’t get a say in what happens in the family or the wife is disconnected from family matters, it means at the end of the day, the husband is held responsible for the decisions made. It is God’s order for the family. Chaos is inevitable if you step out of the bounds of God’s ordained order. You can experience God’s peace by walking out the role He has ordered for you specifically and uniquely, dear sister.
One way a wife can help “lighten the load” for her husband is to fulfill her role in the home with joy and excellence, as well as pray for and encourage her husband in his God-ordained role (despite his short-comings and flaws).
I have several friends who have a husband who is not the spiritual leader of their home, and it makes submission extremely difficult for them when they feel their husband is not “carrying his weight” in this area of the family. God is very much aware of this dynamic, which is most likely why He inspired Peter to pen these encouraging words for wives:
“In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, 2 as they observe your chaste and [a]respectful behavior”
Regardless if the husband is a believer or not, men have a weightier responsibility that women were not designed to carry- a burden of accountability before the Lord as the leader of the home and family. As wives, we must view this design as the gift it truly is to your womanhood. God simply did not create men and women “equal” in this way. Our roles are different, so it is wise to try not to strap on an unnecessary burden. Eventually, it will harm you, your marriage, and your family. We cannot walk in submission and service in our home without the help of the Holy Spirit, so it is important for us to remember to ask God for His grace, especially when our husbands may not be as involved in our home and children’s lives as we would like. The Lord has given you your husband and your marriage covenant is important to God. He wants to work and change you and your husband’s hearts to reflect His ways as He cultivates the fruit of the Spirit in your lives. Even though nagging may seem like the easy thing to do when we are annoyed or frustrated, let us gain wisdom from the scriptures and win our husbands over with our respect and love, asking the Lord to humble us daily and give us a heart to serve our husbands and our family.
Thank You for the gift of marriage. It is not always easy,but please help me see it as the gift it truly is. Help me to remember to hold my tongue when I am frustrated at my husband and learn to walk in respectful manner towards him. I ask that You would bless my husband as he seeks to support and provide for our family. Move in his heart to hunger after Your Word so that He looks to You most of all as he learns how to lead our family. If he does not know You or love You like I know You and love You, I ask that You would convict his heart to see his great need of the Savior and draw him to the cross. Thank You for my husband and thank You for the order You have placed in the family. I pray Your peace would be our foundation. In Jesus’ name, amen.
I woke up one morning recently crying after having a very vivid, heart-piercing dream. It was almost as if my current heart-struggle was being played out right before me; I could honestly see this dream happening in reality.
The words that were spoken (in the dream) to me and my husband cut to the core, and they hurt so badly that my first reaction was tears so strong that they stained my cheeks when I awoke.
Being a story-teller allows for intense dream-tales in my mind while I’m supposed to be resting, sleeping. It’s something I have always dealt with since I was a child- I wake up trying to shake the mental visions, telling myself over and over again that it’s not real. Eventually, the emotions fade, and I can go on with the rest of my day.
In this recent instance, I had trouble getting passed the pain and just began talking to God about it. It was very obvious and simple- I was still dealing with rejection and it still hurt, but I was reminded that there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24).
Although Proverbs 18:24 doesn’t necessarily say that friend is Jesus, I know that He will always be there for me even when everyone else fails me. Scripture tells us that God never leaves us or forsakes us in Deuteronomy 31:6. This truth from the Old Testament about our never-changing God is also stated again as a reminder in Hebrews 13, along with this powerful truth that people will fail us, and people may reject us, but we should not fear, for God is on our side. He is our helper.
“…for He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,” 6 so that we confidently say,
When we face rejection from others, we must remember that Jesus understands more than anyone what rejection feels like, as He is very familiar with it Himself. Many people rejected Jesus (and continue to do so) while He was here on earth, even one of His very own disciples (Judas) rejected Him and betrayed Him. And just a couple hours later, another one of His closest disciples (Peter) rejected knowing Him. Three times to be exact. Aren’t you so thankful for Jesus’ forgiveness when we turn our backs on Him! He gives us so many opportunities to repent and make things right in our relationship with Him! His mercies towards us are new every single morning…oh, what love! The Lord understands our pain regarding rejection and His arms are open wide, so let us be quick to draw near to Him. Lo, He is always with you…even to the end of the age!
I’m hurting. I don’t want to hold onto this pain of rejection. I want to heal from the wounds of those who have hurt me. I choose to forgive. I want You to bless those who hurt me, even if they don’t want me in their life anymore. Your Son was rejected, even by You, for a moment when He took the punishment of sin, out of love for me. Thank You, Jesus, for being the friend I need who sticks by me no matter what. I love You, Lord. Thank You for always loving me and never leaving me. In Jesus’ name, amen.
My husband and I will be married twelve years next month, and although we would never admit to “having it all together,” one thing that we have always fought to hold onto is our pursuit to work through our disagreements, however heated they may become, and never go to sleep angry with one another. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we try our best to be quick to forgive and ask for forgiveness.
But since we are still on this side of eternity, we are continually being sanctified every day, and sometimes our flesh and pride gets in the way of that pursuit for peace and that was the case in a recent argument that he and I experienced. The two of us became so angry with one another that we continued to go in circles and rehash the argument. I found myself not thinking clearly and saying things that were hurtful towards my husband, things that I did not believe to be true. I would constantly interrupt my husband with what I wanted to say and never let him voice his concerns. In my frustration, I became so exhausted and confused that I didn’t have any energy to continue the conversation. Thankfully, before we drifted off to sleep, we both took some time to calm down and began to apologize for our anger and hurtful words. Knowing anger that is not restrained can often lead to sin, and in this case it did, we both repented to the Lord and to each other. We can find much instruction and wisdom in the Bible regarding the sin of unrestrained anger. James 1 has some beautiful instruction for us that is a wonderful reminder for our hearts, especially in marriage relationship:
“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:19-20, ESV).
Do you notice how our conversations with each other can be tied to the misuse of anger? This is especially true if we are not considering others before ourselves when we want to voice our opinion or concerns. The misuse of anger is called unrighteous anger because it is selfish and prideful in nature. Those who do not think of others when speaking are walking in pride, which can often lead to anger if met with resistance and tension. When anger is unrestrained and rooted in pride, we are not walking righteously before God. We are to be quick to listen before speaking and patient when engaging in a tense discussion. What wise advice for married couples! Anger is sure to occur when two people disagree, but we do not have to give into the temptation to allow that anger to fuel hurtful or hate-filled words towards the other person, sinning against them and more importantly, sinning against God who calls us to walk in righteousness. We need to prefer others above ourselves in our conversations with one another. May the Lord help us and sanctify us in our marriages and relationships with others.
Father, Your Word has so much to say on the sin of anger, yet we give into this temptation all the time when we are challenged in our selfishness. I repent for sinning against those who have been made in Your image when I did not prefer them above myself and allowed my words to cause pain. This is especially true in my marriage. I have allowed my pride to lead me into unrestrained anger by lashing out and interrupting in my disagreements. Help me to follow Your wisdom of being slow to speak and quick to listen so that anger does not cause me to walk in unrighteous behavior towards my husband and brothers and sisters in Christ. Thank You, Holy Spirit, for Your grace to empower me to walk more Christ-like. In Jesus’ name, amen.
I saw a sign the other day that said: “I saw it. I liked it. I bought it. Now hide it!”
You know, it is often a joke among women that we hide our Amazon Prime packages or shopping bags from our husbands like it is a secret behavior that all women do that is normal. But sister, this is so wrong. And quite frankly, it is a sin. How can we be in unity with our spouse if we are literally hiding something from them? Why do we make jokes about that? We need to call this what it is, and admit we have a problem. This behavior is materialistic and can often be rooted in covetousness, and it is not a joking matter to God. This saying above isn’t cute and should reveal to us the matter of our heart. It seems where our eyes wander, our heart follows and can become fixated upon whatever has our gaze. We need to readjust our focus and if we are not able to overcome the temptation, we need the Lord’s help, especially if we are continually tempted by material possessions and give into hiding our addiction to “more stuff.”
Do you wrestle with impulsively buying things you don’t need? I do, big time.
But I have been convicted of this sin and do not want to grieve God nor my husband with this widely accepted behavior in our society. There is a verse in Psalms that is a cry to the Lord for helping turn our focus from temporal things that don’t matter:
“Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways”
(Psalm 119:37, ESV).
We find life in God’s ways, not in the world’s ways of accumulation of more material possessions. Our possessions should be a blessing to us and others and not turn into idolatry, leading our hearts away from God and the things of God. Although we live here on earth, as believers, we are citizens of heaven, and we should lift our gaze to heavenly things more than earthly things. In a culture that jokes about shopaholics hiding their problem of impulsive buying, let us be different by pointing others to Christ and His ways where true abundant life is found.
Let’s hold each other accountable, friends. The temptation is strong, but God can help us overcome. He always provides a way out. Let us ask the Lord to help us keep our eyes on Him and that escape and ask the Him for strength when temptation comes. May we also ask Him to turn our eyes to what is eternal and more precious than worthless material possessions where moth and rust eat at them.
Father, my eyes have wandered onto obsessing over material possessions. When I scroll social media, I feel the pressure to own what others own that they are often trying to market to me. I ask for Your help to guard my heart from materialism and covetousness. I also repent for perhaps giving into the temptation of hiding this struggle that seemingly feels too difficult to overcome. I know that You always provide a way of escaping every temptation. It is not a sin to be tempted, but it is a sin to act upon that temptation. I long to walk in Your ways because I want to obey You, and I know Your ways provide life abundantly. Thank You for Your grace and mercy that is new every morning that gives me a new focus upon You and Your Kingdom. In Jesus’ name, amen.
For me, one of the hardest things during pregnancy is not so much the morning sickness (although that is pretty rough). It’s not the weight gain, back aches, swollen ankles, insomnia, constant potty breaks in the middle of the night, or not being able to bend over to pick anything up without making weird noises. Although all of those things can make life a struggle, especially when you are chasing around two other littles, the most difficult part for me is the last few weeks of pregnancy…
…and not knowing when the day is going to be.
It takes a level of trusting God and leaning into His sovereignty like no other major life event. He is God. We are not. He is in control of all things. And we are not.
And birth is one of the greatest reminders of that…if you are allowed to let your body naturally call the shots and don’t have any kind of medical interventions, of course, and that was my goal this pregnancy just like my previous one with my son, James.
My hospital experience with Isaiah, my first born, was a bit traumatic- my water unexpectedly broke at 37.6 weeks at 1am, contractions stalled and no amount of walking was helping jumpstart labor, so the doctor approached us with the concern that the longer we waited, we risked infection for the baby, so Paul and I prayed and decided to take the doctor’s advice and be put on Pitocin to help my body along.
I will just say this: 12 HOURS ON PITOCIN AND NO EPIDURAL was NOT my idea of a natural childbirth, but God gave me the grace and strength to endure those 25 hours from the time my water broke to the time I was holding the baby boy who made me a momma.
God has an amazing way of taking a painful experience and making something beautiful out of it, and because of the chain of events that happened the day Isaiah was born, the Lord brought restoration to an area of my life that was broken. You can read more about that here.
Although difficult, I was thankful for a healthy baby and a safe labor and delivery at a hospital, but from that moment on, I knew I wanted my next labor and delivery to be quite different, so I chose to deliver our next son, James, at a birth center under the amazing care of midwives instead of an OB.
To be completely honest, Jesus brought so much redemption and healing with that experience, and I just remember being so filled with joy after I looked at my amazing teammate of a husband in the eyes who was literally my anchor during it all and scooped up my sweet prince into my arms. My water broke to initiate labor this time too, but there was no delay in stopping that boy from being born; In typical James’ fashion, he came into the world like a rocket in just under two hours after arriving at the birth center…as their 1,000th birth since they opened as a facility. You can read more about that birth story here.
When we found out we were pregnant with our third in January 2020 (after only trying once…God is good!), I didn’t hesitate to decide where our next baby would be born. I called the birth center and set up my first appointment where the boys were able to hear the baby’s heartbeat, and since the birth center had added some new ultrasound equipment since James was born, we were also able to catch a glimpse of the little peanut growing in my belly. Everything looked and sounded great! What a precious memory for me to experience with my two oldest before the whole world shut down just a few weeks later.
That is the word that comes to mind when I reflect on my entire experience with our third son, baby Jude, as you will see.
Just a few weeks after my initial prenatal appointment, I received a letter in the mail from our insurance company- the birth center was no longer contracted with United Health Care.
My heart sank and tears began to well up in my eyes. I don’t want another hospital birth! I cried to Paul. Especially during a global pandemic! I searched and searched the internet to find another option.
What about the birth center at Mercy Hospital? I thought. Two of the midwives at the birth center worked there! This would be great!
Sadly, it was out-of-network with our insurance.
What about a homebirth? Yes, that settles it. I am having a homebirth.
If you know my husband, Paul, you know how that was out of the question. He works with data in the medical community for a living and calculates risk for fun. You will never find us on vacation on a cruise. “It’s a death trap! Like being in a giant steel coffin in the middle of the ocean…no thank you!”
But on a serious note, looking back, I see how God had a specific plan for this pregnancy and how He ordained every step of the way even at 14 weeks along. I was able to find a family physician that I had been wanting to see as my own primary care doctor when I was postpartum with James, but she was only accepting patients who were currently pregnant, as she also delivered babies. This doctor was a major contributor of advocating for more natural childbirth at Mercy Hospital and helped their birth center get off the ground before she opened her own practice. She also trained as a midwife’s assistant before beginning medical school. AND her practice was in-network with our insurance! And not only would I get to see her during my pregnancy and postpartum, I would finally have a primary care physician for the first time since I was in college!
My pregnancy was a rather smooth one once we made it out of the dreaded first trimester nausea and fatigue, and I truly enjoyed getting to form a relationship with my new doctor, but every so often, I would get frustrated that I had to go the hospital route, especially as COVID restrictions kept changing.
As we approached my “guess date” of September 19th, I began to have a similar prodromal labor experience as I did with James. Contractions began to form patterns and they would intensify. I never knew if “this was it” or if the contractions would simply keep me awake through the night only to fizzle out. This in and of itself is pretty exhausting and stressful, especially when others’ schedules are impacted by your personal judgment and being terrified that you would run out of time and give birth in the car on the way to the hospital.
The week leading up to Jude’s birth was extremely stressful and emotional for Paul and I as our childcare plans continued to fall through and change last minute in addition to having one false alarm that resulted in a hospital trip mid-day to get “checked.” My doctor wanted me to do laps in the hallways to see if things would progress, and because of COVID policies, I had to wear a mask at all times and walk alone without Paul only to find out that I hadn’t progressed at all. Let’s just say I was so over it, that it was hard to hold back the tears by that point.
Contractions continued to come (and go) at various times in the day and night and finally, the day after my “guess date,” my water broke just like my other two pregnancies….hat trick! 😉 It happened around 7:30pm as I was climbing into the van to go grab Paul some White Castles. We will remember that story for a long time!
Since it was a Sunday night, Paul’s parents were able to come to the house to stay with the boys with no issues at all and on top of that, my mother-in-law Becky was off work the next day. Something I was so worked up and anxious about, ended up working out with ease.
I had been listening to sermons that entire week about not being anxious or worried because my Heavenly Father knows what I need and will provide. I simply just needed to trust Him. I’m so glad I prepared my heart with those teachings because I had no idea how much I would need to trust the Lord as I prepared to give birth to our sweet, baby Jude.
As we were admitted into the hospital, we were blessed with an incredibly kind and gentle L&D nurse who helped us remain peaceful; We were almost certain she was a believer. Suddenly as I got up to go to the restroom while contractions were still pretty mild, the nurse notice a unique coloration that indicated that the baby passed meconium in the womb. She calmly informed us that NICU staff had been notified in advance so that they were ready at the time of his birth just in case they were needed for an emergency situation.
Contractions continued to get stronger and I settled into position (which I discovered with James’ birth) where I get “in the zone.” Paul was an amazing support by my side, holding my hand and encouraging me through each wave of contraction. My awesome doctor arrived just as I began to make vocalizations to handle the pain and she was also encouraging me through the contractions and giving me sips of water. That is usually unheard of when it comes to OBs who mostly just show up at the very last minute to catch the baby.
My doctor was only in the room for less than hour by the time I felt the urge to push. I switched to an upright position on my knees with my arms around Paul to bear down as I began to push, which seemed so much more difficult than I remember with James. I heard the doctor tell me that the head was out, but then I kept wondering why it wasn’t over yet.
What I didn’t know was that Jude’s shoulders were stuck in the birth canal.
Suddenly, a swarm of nurses were around me as they turned me onto my back, and everyone did all they could to help Jude out. It was a slow night, so there was plenty of staff to come to the rescue.
Finally, there he was, but instead of instant skin to skin like I was promised, they rushed him to the table across the room where Paul met them. The NICU staff worked extremely fast and precise to intubate him to clear his airways because he did in fact swallow meconium and wasn’t breathing. As I was waiting to hear his precious little cry, I just kept praying “Please, Father” over and over again as the nurses by my side were telling me to calm my breathing. Finally, Jude cried, and I threw my hands up in worship and kept saying “Thank you, Jesus.”
One of the reasons, his birth was so difficult was because he was very unexpectedly two pounds heavier than Isaiah and James. Jude Samuel born at 1:39 am on 9/21/2020, and weighed in at 9.6 lbs- my doctor was absolutely shocked that baby fit inside my little belly. Most often, babies that big result in a C-section, but by the grace of God, Jude entered the world naturally and because of God’s grace and mercy and the amazing staff at Missouri Baptist Hospital, he is alive and healthy.
Once the doctors and nurses were able to stabilize his oxygen levels enough before they took him to the NICU for him to receive the care and observation he needed, the nurses swaddled him up in a blanket and put a hat on him for a quick family photo op. I was still trying to grasp what had just happened that I could barely smile. As I look at the photo now, I see that Paul’s eyes were welled up with tears and Jude’s gaze was locked on his momma.
A couple days after we came home from the hospital, Paul needed to process what he experienced in the whirlwind of events of Jude’s birth, and he shared with me that Jude was in fact limp and lifeless for what seemed like an eternity. I know it was a scary several minutes for me not knowing what was happening, but the reality of this news that Paul shared with me hit me like a ton of bricks. So instead of thinking about how awkward I look in this first photo with our third precious son, I will forever remember how I had no idea what God had just done, but I praised His name, knowing that He was faithful to hear my cries and saved my son.
I cannot truly put into words the gratitude that my heart has felt these last two weeks as I continue to process those extremely intense moments leading up to Jude’s birth and the moments of seeing my little man with all the tubes and wires on his tiny body when I nursed him for the first time in the NICU (of which his stay was brief at only five hours total). Truly, the Lord was so incredibly merciful to us that day. What the enemy meant for evil, God turned it for good, and our sweet Jude’s life was spared all for God’s glory.
I can’t help but see God’s providential hand from the beginning of my pregnancy with the birth center dropping our insurance so that I had to give birth at a hospital instead, to the very end with my water breaking to initiate labor to see that there was meconium in the fluid so that the NICU was ready and on-hand just in case.
Nothing with God is coincidence or happenstance; He is sovereign and in control of every detail in our life, guiding our every step. His work in our lives is providential through and through, and He causes all things to work out for our good and for His glory.
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
After this life-changing experience, this verse is having a profound impact upon my heart as I continue to reflect on the goodness and faithfulness of God.
We serve a mighty God who is completely sovereign over all things in our lives. Because of that, He can be trusted.
Thank you, Lord, for our newest arrow, Jude Samuel, who will one day be sent out into the world to tell others of Your great love and share the Gospel wherever You send him. May we raise Him to testify of Your goodness and give You the glory You deserve, all the days of his life.
When my husband comes home from work, immediately after greeting me and the boys and changing out of his work attire, he goes straight for his favorite chair in the whole house, the recliner, to kick up his feet. His workday is over and it is now time to relax and rest for a little while before dinner is ready. He is a “worker bee” by nature, so he has had to practice this routine of relaxation and remind himself often that it is important to take breaks. Sitting down is a position of rest.
The Bible tells us that Jesus, our great High Priest, is now seated at the right hand of the Father (Hebrews 10:12, Mark 16:19). Before He had taken His final breath, he declared “it is finished” (John 19:30). He accomplished all the Father had asked of Him and paid in full all debt of sin.
Jesus is now sitting because the work is finished. In His graciousness, He is now forever making intercession for us (Hebrews 7:25), but that is not an act of striving. The end has already been written- He has won the victory for us!
Did you know the Bible also says that we as believers are now seated with Christ? We can find that truth in Ephesians 2:
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus”
Because of Christ’s finished work on the cross that poured out God’s great mercy upon us, we no longer have to strive to earn God’s love or forgiveness. We are forgiven! We are God’s beloved children! This truth will echo into eternity as we see and experience His rich grace and love towards us forever.
We have been given an inheritance in Jesus, our salvation, and abundant life forever joined with Him. We are seated in heavenly places with Him meaning that, like Christ, our striving is done, the work has been accomplished. Because we are in Christ, we receive the fruit of His labor of love. We can rest in that blessed assurance.
Do you find yourself striving to earn God’s love and forgiveness on your walk with Him? We need the good news of our salvation to permeate our hearts every day to remind us that we did nothing to earn it and we can do nothing to keep it. It is all the work of Christ, the finished work of the cross. His grace is sufficient and powerful to both save and keep those who are His chosen children. Spend some time meditating on the truth found in Ephesians 2:4 and write down in your journal areas of your relationship with God where you are struggling with control issues and trusting God’s grace. Receive God’s fresh mercies today!
[a] Praise the Lord! Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in his commandments! 2 His offspring will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed. 3 Wealth and riches are in his house, and his righteousness endures forever.
Psalm 112:1-3, ESV
My husband and I have this “game” that we play: “Tell me something you love about me” where we list a quality that we admire about each other. Since we have been married for ten years now, I’m sure we have repeated some of the answers, but I always try to come up with something new or something that may pertain to our current season of life.
Without hesitation, I replied, “I love that you are a hard-worker.” He is always working hard to provide for our family and help me take care of things around the house (I have never mowed a lawn in my life!). I am thankful for that quality of his because this man is anything but lazy. Yet, if I am being honest, because my love language is quality time, it sometimes can get under my skin that he has trouble slowing down and resting.
Most men (and women) have a drive to work, work, work and find pleasure in accomplishment and productivity and a longing to provide for their family, but I think it is important to find a balance between work and rest, much like we see how God rested on the seventh day in creation.
God has given us wives to our husbands (and vice versa), so it is important to pray for them in this area so that they do not become exhausted both physically and mentally. But more important than praying for them to find balance and rest, their walk with the Lord is of upmost priority. Apart from God’s grace we are all limited, so we need to make sure we are leaning upon the Lord and looking to Him for wisdom and strength for everything we put our hand to. We see in Psalm 112 the benefits of a man who fears the Lord:
“Praise the Lord! Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in his commandments! His offspring will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed.Wealth and riches are in his house, and his righteousness endures forever”
A man who seeks the Lord and trusts in His word is a reason for praise. God calls this man and his children blessed. This isn’t a passage about “getting rich quick,” but we see that in addition to the blessings of God’s peace, joy, and love in our life, God provides and blesses us materially as well. As a father’s love for God grows, and he leads his children in God’s righteous ways, his children will want to imitate their dad and follow in his footsteps. Much more than teaching them how to work hard and use the gifts that God has given them, a father with a fear for the Lord and a hunger for God’s word is one of the best treasures he could give them. As women, we should pray for the men in our life, especially when they have children, that we would learn how to find a balance of work and rest, but most of all, a desire to seek God first in all things.
Father, we pray for the men in our lives. If the father of our children does not know you, we pray that You would draw him to Yourself and that He would have a hunger for Your word. We pray that He would learn the importance of rest so that he can be restored. We ask that he would lean upon Your grace in all that You have called him to do. We thank You that You are a faithful Father who always provideshttp://emilyrosemassey.com/2020/06/praying-for-the-father-of-your-children/ for our needs. We pray that the father of our children always looks to you first for wisdom and strength as he learns how to walk in your righteous ways and leads his children in the admonition of You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Most little girls dream of growing up to be a mother, a wife, a teacher, a doctor, a marine biologist, a chef, an actress, a singer…
… but not an adulteress.
That’s not a title I thought I would ever carry, but at 19 years old, I found myself entangled in an affair with a married man.
He was nine years older than me and was cast to play my boyfriend in a musical at a local community theatre company. After rehearsal one night, he asked for my phone number because he was going costume hunting over the weekend and said he would call me to give me details if I wanted to tag along. We didn’t end up going together, but he did call me when I got back to my dorm room that Sunday night. He started to talk to me about his costume ideas for a few minutes, and then quickly said he didn’t actually call me to talk about costumes, but to just talk to me because he was lonely. There was an uncomfortable silence, and then I changed the subject quickly.
He ended the conversation by telling me that he couldn’t wait to see me at rehearsal the next day. The interaction during our scenes together started to become more believable as rehearsals went on, and he decided to add more physical affection during our time on-stage than what the script described.
The way he gazed into my eyes during our duets was so intense and passionate. He would sing his love songs to me and my heart would just melt. It was becoming very difficult for me to separate my acting abilities from my true feelings for him.
Choosing to Follow My Heart:
The show opened and closed, but our love affair continued on. During the day, I would skip class, so we could go on lunch dates. At night, he would drop his wife at choir practice at the symphony hall down the street from my dorm and then swing by and pick me up for our weekly date-night in the city. At restaurants, he would hold my hand from across the table and gaze into my eyes, telling me how much he loved me, how unhappy he was in his marriage and how his wife treated him so badly, but being with me made him forget about all of that. He promised we would be together in the end. I believed every single word, and at the same time felt ravaged inside. I had set it in my heart that I was going to rescue him from his mean and hateful wife.
Oh, what a fool I was!
Affairs Begin in the Heart
In the sermon on the mount, Jesus boldly addresses adultery:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
The sin of adultery – like most other sins– isn’t just an outward act but begins in the heart.
There are many verses in the Bible regarding the significance of the heart of man, butI wanted to highlight these three because I believe they give us clarity on how the sin of adultery (and others) can creep into our lives and what we can do to prevent temptation from becoming sin:
1. We should never trust our heart
“The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9 NKJV)
2. We are to protect our heart
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23, NIV).
3. We are to trust the Lord with our whole heart
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6, NASB).
Learning to Follow God:
I was “the other woman” for about a year, and when he was through with me, he moved onto someone else who played his girlfriend in another musical. It was all a blur of empty kisses and empty promises. I allowed the sin of adultery to drag me even further into the pit of self-destruction with other men while I was in college, creating more wounds from my sinful actions, but the story didn’t end there, praise God!
Shortly after I graduated college, the Lord regenerated me. My dead, sinful heart was made alive in Christ and the beautiful journey of sanctification began. It has been a long process of learning how to walk the narrow road, but the power of the Holy Spirit and God’s grace continues to give me the strength to keep putting one foot in front of the other as I’ve taken up my cross to follow, love, and obey Him.
God Can Redeem Your Mess
I look back over this time in my life, now a very happily married woman of 10 years and a mother of two precious little boys (and one little prince or princess on the way!), and I can’t help but thank God for His mercy and grace. Instead of feeling shame and guilt from my past sins, I can now glean from these wrong choices to help strengthen my marriage and ensure that it doesn’t become susceptible to the sin of adultery.
I believe the Lord can take my mess and turn it into a message for others, both married couples and single people. I never want to give glory to my past sins, but only give glory to the One who can redeem us from our sins and give us the strength to escape every temptation. Most of all, I long to lead you to truth and obedience to Christ one step at a time in the right direction.
In December 2019, my husband and I celebrated ten years of marriage. We spent a few nights in New York City for our special 10 year wedding anniversary trip. Since we have two young children, it was the first time we had been away alone in three and a half years. It was much needed to be sure! Our time together brought back so many memories of when we first met, and I loved every minute of it.
As I reflected on the last ten years with the man God gave me, I enjoyed reminiscing of the special time in my life when I found “the One”…
…Or really when “the One” found me, since it all occurred around the same time frame.
With a theater degree in my back pocket, and the blueprint of my move to LA before my eyes, I most definitely wasn’t looking for my husband back then or even cared if he ever found me.
Because bitter disappointments were around every corner, I tried to drown out any desire of marriage with as many distractions as possible: parties, one-night stands, over-involvement in extracurricular activities and clubs, and the most of important of them all, my career plans as an actress in Los Angeles.
That all came to a screeching halt when I came face to face with my true destiny—the realization that I was a daughter of the King of Kings and He was not going to allow this prodigal to run away from Him any longer.
Broken, full of pride, and desperately lonely, He found me in my mess.
I left all of the distractions behind and began to surrender my entire life to the Lord, seeking His face and eager to truly know Him in a deeper way than I ever had before. The longer I spent time with God in times of prayer, worship, reading His Word, and fellowshipping with other believers at church, I began to fully understand the depths of God’s great love for me and that satisfied my soul more than .
I think so many have been hurt and disappointed in relationships and the cares of life like I was. It wasn’t until I began to wholeheartedly focus on my relationship with Christ that I began to see that His view for marriage was much greater than just two people coming together and pledging their love for one another. Marriage points us to Christ and His love for us.
If we don’t have a clear understanding of who Jesus is to us and how He gave His life up for us, our perception of our future mate and marriage is going to be extremely out of focus.
The apostle Paul explains to husbands and wives in Ephesians 5:22-33 exactly how marriage reflects Christ’s sacrificial love for us.
“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself, for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”
This passage of scripture paints a beautiful picture of who God believes we should wait for when it comes to entering a lasting marriage relationship. Marriage here on earth is God’s way of showing us how much Jesus loves His Church and how much The Father loves the world. The love shown between a husband and wife is a direct reflection of God’s love for them.
Are you truly accepting that love? Is it penetrating the very depths of our soul or is it just head knowledge?
Are you embracing God’s limitless, unconditional love or are you chasing after all other pleasures and empty relationships wondering if you are going to find love and happiness?
If you are running after all of the cares of this world, then I urge you to stop. Stop, and wait. Not alone, but with “the One.” Seeking after truly knowing “the One.” The One who created marriage and the One who says that you are treasured and loved in His eyes above all. He knows what He’s doing.
Because “the One” created you and your “one.”
So enjoy the wait with Him.
Looking back on ten wonderfully beautiful years of marriage, I’m so glad that I did.